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New Insights into Antidepressants and Weight Gain

Antidepressants and Weight Gain

If you are looking to start taking antidepressants while struggling with depression, then unexpected weight gain could be your concern.

A recent study has given us some valuable information about how different antidepressants can affect weight gain.

This study was published in Annals of Internal Medicine and researchers explored the electronic health records from a large healthcare system.

They compared weight changes among individuals using various first-line antidepressant medications.

Key findings

The study found little but important differences in weight gain among eight commonly prescribed antidepressants. Here are a few highlights from it.


Weight Gain Link

Bupropion (Wellbutrin)Low (potential for slight weight loss)
Escitalopram (Lexapro)Moderate (10-15% chance of gaining 5%+ body weight in 6 months)
Paroxetine (Paxil)Fair chance (10-15% likelihood of gaining 5% or more body weight in 6 months)
Duloxetine (Cymbalta)Same as escitalopram and paroxetine

Understanding what it means

Even though the weight gain caused by these meds was not too much still a few extra pounds could be a point of concern for some people.

This is how the study provides us with some valuable about what this antidepressant and weight gain link could mean for both healthcare personnel and patients.

Doctors can now see how an antidepressant might affect your weight when prescribing it to you.

This will help create a treatment plan that is more focused on your individual needs, considering how well the medicine works and its possible side effects.

Patients can learn about the possible weight changes with different antidepressants through this study. This is useful to help them make wise choices and participate in their treatment decisions.

The study also pointed out that some antidepressants have lower adherence rates, which shows the need for ongoing communication and support for patients taking these drugs.

Limitations and future directions

The study acknowledges some limitations as well. Electronic health records might not always note down the complete medication adherence data.

Moreover, the study period was relatively short, just 6 months. More research with longer follow-up periods and detailed and confirmed adherence data is needed to confirm these findings.

Additional considerations

Maintaining a good diet and regular exercise is important for managing weight, even if you are using antidepressants.

People may gain weight differently, even if they are taking the same medication. It is essential to think about the possible weight changes compared to the big mental health benefits that antidepressants can give.

If you are thinking about starting antidepressants or are worried about weight gain with your current medication, talk to your doctor.

They can help you know the risks and benefits of different treatment options and create a plan that best meets your personal needs.

This research was published on 2nd July 2024.


How Antidepressants Work:

The actual cause of depressive disorder is currently under investigation; however, researchers believe it is linked to abnormalities in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.

They transmit signals from a brain cell to another brain cell by acting as messengers. The three major neurotransmitters related to depression are serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine [ref].

Antidepressants affect these neurotransmitters in several ways. Serotonin and norepinephrine are prevented from being absorbed by brain cells by reuptake inhibitors, such as SSRIs and SNRIs, which prolong the half-life of these neurotransmitters.

In addition to preventing serotonin and norepinephrine from being reabsorbed, tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) [ref] promote the release of these neurotransmitters from storage sites.

Some antidepressants, like bupropion, function differently, influencing dopamine levels or interacting with different brain neurotransmitter systems.


Managing weight gain while on antidepressants

Concerns about gaining weight are common with antidepressant users. There is still a possibility, even if the latest research shows that certain medicines may have a decreased risk of weight gain.

So here are some ways to control your weight gain while using antidepressants:

  • Diet and exercise:

Regular exercise, meditation, and maintaining a healthy diet are important for losing weight, regardless of drug use [ref].

Pay attention to whole foods like lean protein vegetable fruits, sugary drinks, and unhealthy fat, and limit processed foods.

When you do exercise daily, especially in the morning, your body releases good brain chemicals. At least 30 minutes of exercise moderate to severe intensity should be performed.

  • Open communication with doctor:

Discuss your weight concerns with your doctor. They can create a personalized plan for a healthy diet and exercise.

Your doctor will also check your current medications to see if any affect your weight when taken with antidepressants, and they will look for any medical issues that could be causing weight gain.

Additionally, your doctor can help manage side effects from antidepressants that make weight control hard.

For example, some antidepressants can increase your appetite or make you feel tired.

He or she might suggest changing your medication, adjusting your diet, or starting an exercise routine to help with these side effects.

  • Mindful eating:

Be aware of your hunger and fullness clues. To avoid overeating, eat carefully and savor every bite. Consider keeping a food diary to measure how much you eat and find areas for improvement.

What do you think?

Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

I love my family, my profession, my blog, nature, hiking, and simple life. Read more about me, my family, and my qualifications

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